Summer is upon us. Swimming pools are open as are students’ schedule for friends, camps and vacations. There’s plenty of time for fun in the sun. In June, July and August, children are free to explore who they are and the world around them.
If only that freedom were more, well, free.
For lower-income families, having the memory-making kinds of summers has become unattainable. In 2014, parents spent $958 on average for summer activities. Weeklong camps often are several hundred dollars. Public pool admission, amusement park tickets and vacations also add up quickly.
And that just scrapes the surface of a growing issue. Parents have to decide whether they can stretch already strapped budgets for child care. In the harshest of cases, parents choose between child care and buying groceries or paying bills. As a result, 11 percent of 6- to 12-year olds are on their own an average 10 hours a week.
Instead of summers of growth, children from low-income families are falling further behind in school. Low-income children typically lose two months of reading skills each summer. By the end of fifth grade, they’re almost three school years behind their peers. The gap only grows larger each year after that.
As a community, if we are serious about children being our future, this simply can’t happen.
Efforts like the summer programs offered by Buckner Family Hope Centers jump-start the development of children by closing the knowledge gap. With programming and volunteers from the community building a bridge across the summer, Buckner elevates and empowers children, helping them fulfill their God-given potential.
Parents and students see the difference summer programs make. Involvement in Buckner programs swells during the summer. They are drawn to efforts promoting wise decision-making, learning and fun such as educational programs, Vacation Bible Schools run by church groups and meal and snack programs.
Family Hope Centers also create additional opportunities for youth by serving as connection points to other organizations’ free activities like reading programs and church camps.
Instead of a summer sitting alone in front of a television, children experience fun with their friends. They play sports. They try new activities and learn knew skills. Sometimes, they even get a little messy.
And that sounds like a summer we can all love.
To learn more about how you can help children have a memorable and positive summer, visit our Volunteer Central.